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43˚S, 71˚W

Monday, January 10, 2011

Three weeks from today, I will board my first of four planes over twenty-six hours: from Boston to Philadelphia, then to Miama, then Santiago, and finally Coyhaique, Chile.  The time change from departure to final destination is only one hour (and there is no time difference outside of US daylight savings time).  Curious, I looked up the latitude and longitude of the town where I will be living for the next ten months: Palena is 43.6˚S, 71.8˚W.  This information was meaningless to me without a point of comparison, so I also looked up the global direction of my hometown, Ipswich, MA: 42.7˚N, 70.8˚W.  This means that Palena is almost exactly due south of Ipswich, sort of its mirror image.  Both towns are approximately 70˚ west of the Prime Meridian, and the two towns are almost the same distance from the equator, with no more than 66 miles (1 degree of latitude) of difference.

Why is this interesting?  Well, for one, it inspired the title of this blog, which also happens to be a bar in Gloucester.  I found that out from a customer at my current job:

This, of course, is the job that’s allowed me to live at home the past few months without feeling like a post-collegegiate sloth.  Since September, I have settled into a comfortable rhythm of work, combined with cooking, reading, working out, and friends.  When asked, I stuck to the line that  I was relaxing and saving up before heading to Latin America.  At best, I was relaxing and saving up.  At worst, I was convinced that I would just mooch off my parents forever never find a way to follow my big vision of living abroad.  Now that I have a definite plan, I’m surprised I’m not more relieved.  Partly it’s that there are still so many unknowns, and as January 31 approaches, I am praying this position doesn’t just sound like a good idea, but actually is one.

For those of you that don’t know, here’s a summary of what’s to come: I will be living and working as an English teacher in a town in Southern Chile, from February- December, 2011 (that’s the academic year in most of South America).  The position is made possible by a collaboration of two organizations: WorldTeach, a Harvard-based volunteer organization, and Fundación Patagonia Sur, a Chilean NGO that focuses on sustainable development, conservation, environmental and English education.  I will be living in an apartment above the Fundación’s office in Palena, and teaching primarily younger grades.

I am full of questions, most of which won’t even begin to be answered until I arrive and start to settle in.  At this point, I am reminding myself of the things I can count on; namely, myself.  During my junior year, I lived in Mexico for five months, and though I was challenged, I also developed an appetite for Spanish, for Latin American politics, for staying somewhere long enough to get to know people.  In the two years since, I have dreamed of living again in Latin America, confident that I am ready to take on a bigger adventure next time.  This is my next time.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Cathy permalink
    Sunday, January 16, 2011 11:42 am

    Hi Meg,

    Loved reading your blog entry. What a trip! Best of luck to you and I look forward to checking your blog. I’ll be thinking of you on January 31st.


    Aunt Cathy

  2. Sam permalink
    Monday, January 17, 2011 8:55 am

    Good luck Margaret! I think you’ll be fine.

    -One of your other big sisters.

  3. David Russell permalink
    Monday, January 17, 2011 5:59 pm

    I am excited by your blog and your upcoming trip. Your first two entries make me look forward to the next. I hope you have a wonderful adventure!

  4. Fellow adventurer permalink
    Wednesday, September 7, 2011 8:46 pm

    25 years ago I was finshing my chemistry degree in Guatemala.
    Like many of my fellow students, we applied for graduate school in the USA. I must admit my English was terrible but somehow I passed the TOFEL and the GRE and Chemistry GRE. So I got accepted by three schools in a PhD program and to my big surprise…they would pay me to attend school while being a t.a. I really thought of this as a 5 year paid vacation while getting a doctorate.
    Well, my little adventure resulted in meeting a beautiful girl, marrying etc…

    Good luck with yours. Just chase your dream, be good and enjoy life. Oh be careful though. There are lambs and wolves everywhere…

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